I have never confronted my mum about this, but I’m pretty sure I’m at least 50% elvish.
Having plants around makes me feel good. It always has. When I was a kid in need of a private place to sulk, I would climb a tree. After a long hard day of being a nerd in high school, I would water pot plants. As an adult, I filled my rental’s barren courtyard with potted herbs and spent all day staring vaguely out the window at them instead of being productive.
And finally, as a homeowner, I decided it was time for trendy indoor plants.
And a cat, of course.
It didn’t work out how I imagined.
The first problem was that our brand new cuddle floof turned out to be an indiscriminate glutton. He disposed of his dinner like a vacuum cleaner. Cooking meals became an extreme sports version of keepies-off. He consumed stray bits of dental floss and munched on rubber bands—and we only know about those because we found floss and bits of mangled rubber in his vomit. Who knows what other household items he’s digested.
It became quickly apparent that the probability of him finding and taking a bite out of a poisonous houseplant was 100%.
Which ruled out all the trendy ones.
Terrified I would accidently kill the fluff-monster, I did some research before getting anything.
And good thing I did. As soon as I brought my non-toxic houseplant selections home, my fears were confirmed. Our food-hoovering, face-cuddling, foot-biting, sink-splashing, shoulder-sitting cat was also a plant-nibbler.
Our sentient scarf fixated on a Boston fern. He nibbled and nibbled. The damage began to show. We moved it around, tried to hide it from him, but he found it again and again. Over the course of month, he ate it down to twigs.
Until that point, I had everything arse-about. I had assumed the plants were a risk to the health of our furry hedge-trimmer, but in fact he was a danger to them.
Our murder-croissant moved on to an African violet. He bit the leaves off so he could play with them on the ground. It lived longer than the fern, but he knocked off leaves faster than the plant could regrow them.
I was not ready to admit defeat. My elvish heritage would not be denied. I picked out some replacements, and this time I choose robust plants, capable of withstanding a bit of casual grazing.
I had grossly underestimated his capacity to nibble.
Worse, the toebean-licker seemed to understand how much I hated it. He would use it to seek vengeance whenever I refused to feed him dinner at 2pm, stopped him from murdering my knitting, or fished him out of the toilet and shut the lid to prevent him playing in it.
It always played out the same way. First, there was a lull in cat mayhem, and I would return to my internet browsing or fantasy novel. I relaxed, but before long I would feel the seeping awareness that the silence was too good to be true. In fact, I inevitably realised it wasn’t silence at all.
Leaves were rustling.
And I would look up.
The nibbles started to show—on my nerves as well as on the plants.
I searched for new solutions. I started hanging them so the meowinator couldn’t reach them to nibble.
If I only wanted a couple of plants, I would have found my solution. But I wanted my victory to be absolute. I needed more plants, large plants, multiple per room!
I couldn’t hang them all. I needed another alternative.
Channelling my elvish wiles, and found it.
It was, I am willing to acknowledge, a little bit evil. A tad cunning. Slightly Slytherin. It betrayed a dark corner of myself I usually pretend I don’t have.
At the end of the day, the important thing is not my moral integrity or the state of my immortal soul, it’s not even that I got to keep my plants.
It is that I won.
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